Museums that are replicas of villages or towns from another time are intriguing. They waken the imagination, teach us history, and connect the past to the present.
The 1920s village museum I visited recently is decorated with a spooky yet friendly autumn theme for about a week in October. Unlike previous years, there is no trick-or-treating because of the pandemic. However, this year’s crow and pumpkin themed event was proof that we can still celebrate traditions and enjoy time with friends and family.
Here are some highlights from the Eerie Illusions event.
When you first walk in, you hear the voices of two children projected on loudspeakers. They have discovered a spellbook that they want to try out! Lights project onto the field to scarecrows standing guard, and behind them, you see dancing, winking jack-o-lanterns in the trees.
A crowd stands around in a half-circle to watch the performance. No one seems afraid that the magic that has brought the pumpkins to life will affect the bystanders too.
All family members, from children to adults, and costumed small and tall people, were transfixed by the attractions. They took photos. They pointed at the displays. One child kept pointing at the house-sized spiders and spider webs but I wasn’t sure what mezmerized him about the webs.
The village seemed to come alive with a temporary magic in the evening. In the church, two pumpkins were getting married. Down the street, two other pumpkins are talking to each other and driving their early 1900s car. Like in a Disney movie, the ordinary came to life to do the same activities as any human. And the sights weren’t spooky at all.
On the main street, museum visitors could get their photo taken by an invisible photographer. You could stand on a marked circle and look at a mirror. Then the photographer’s voice told you that your photo was ready, and in the mirror, you saw yourself, but projected over you was a ghost.
You’ll notice much attention to detail. On one darker side of the street, painted trees glowed in the night. In the bushes, you saw the unblinking neon eyes of owls and other creatures as they watched you. A stuffed raccoon (toy stuffed, not taxidermy stuffed) studied you from next to the base of a tree.
At the end of the street, the one-room schoolhouse was closed. The students had gone home, but you could see the shadows of crows fluttering behind the windows. Eerie music played in the background. Would you dare to enter the building? Good thing school was out.
The farmhouse was one of the best sights at the museum. The full moon next to it was a ball of light with images projected on it. If you watched long enough, you would see the moon change colours and birds flying across its surface. At some point, the moon had closed eyes and a mouth as the moon slept!
The seasonal harvest was part of the farmhouse display. The bottled jams and corn dollies looked real enough to eat (if you could eat plastic), and no one was in sight. Should you buy the food? Or take it? But maybe a ghost is watching. The glowing jack-o-lanterns definitely had their eyes on you.
Halloween isn’t just about scaring others or getting scared. In the case of the museum, visitors followed the story of two children who used their magic to bring creatures to life. The village was transformed, and we could see pumpkin people and crows doing what many humans do. These themed events are a great way to bring people to a place that connects the past with the present.